And now I suppose we must go through with this perfectly ridiculous comedy.
~ Nick from the original novel, just before going into custody
You silly little man, you don't know anything. You're all... so... stupid!
~ A more overtly nasty Nick from the 1990 ITV adaptation, just before going into custody

Magdala “Nick” Buckley is the main antagonist of Dame Agatha Christie's 1932 Hercule Poirot novel Peril of the End House, and its adaptations.

She was portrayed by the late Olga Edwardes in the novel's 1940 stage adaptation, and by Polly Walker in its 1990 adaptation from Agatha Christie's Poirot (who also portrayed Peggy Sykes in Pennyworth). She was also voiced by Gemma Saunders in the 2000 radio adaptation presented by BBC Radio 4.

Overview

Nick is a young woman living at End House, near St. Loo, and is initially introduced as the novel's tritagonist. It quickly becomes apparent to Hercule Poirot that someone was trying to kill her; events come to a head when her cousin Maggie is killed, apparently in a fourth misdirected attempt on Nick's life. However, it is eventually revealed that Nick herself murdered Maggie, and staged the attempts on her own life to cover her tracks. Nick had desparately needed money, and the fact that she and her cousin shared the same name, Magdala, created an opportunity for her to pretend to be the fiancee of Maggie's deceased and very wealthy secret fiance Michael Seton and fraudulently inherit his fortune. Nick very cunningly hides her plot behind her cheery and carefree personality, and actually manipulates Poirot himself into unwittingly helping her along with it. 

History

Magdala "Nick" Buckley is the owner of the End House, and the friend of Navy Commander George Challenger. Her cousin Maggie, with whom she shares the first name Magdala, was secretly engaged to Michael Seton, a renowned pilot, prior to his disappearance, and she has taken Nick into her confidence. As soon as the news of Michael Seton's death emerges, Nick decides to plan her cousin's murder and pretend that she herself, rather than Maggie, is Michael's fiancee whom he has named in his will. 

After meeting with Poirot, Nick pretends that she has had several narrow escapes from death recently, and stages another one right in front of him by setting the scene to make him think she has been shot at, while at the same time, disarmingly laughing off his suggestion that her life is in danger. He then plays into her hands by urging her to send for a companion, giving her the opportunity to ask Maggie to come over. She has ordered in a black dress for the party that evening, in order to be dressed like Maggie. During the fireworks display down by the lake, Maggie gets cold and returns to the house to get her shawl, which Nick has hidden. Nick also returns to the house, apparently to get a fur shawl, offers Maggie her own scarlet shawl which she's been wearing, steals out after her and shoots her, with the gunshot sound being lost among the fireworks, before leaving the scene.

Poirot soon discovers Maggie's dead body wearing Nick's shawl, and concludes that this was another attempt on Nick's life that went astray. For her own protection, he urges her to go into hiding in the hospital and not eat or drink anything sent from outside.

After the newspapers report Michael Seton's death the next day, Poirot discovers that this was the news Nick had received in her phone call after dinner. Upon questioning, Nick falsely "reveals" to him that she was secretly engaged to Seton, which provides him with a motive for the attacks on her. He also discovers the love letters that Michael had written to "Magdala".

Nick is later poisoned by cocaine-laced chocolates, which she apparently thought safe as she claims that Poirot's card was attached to them. The chocolates were actually sent by Frederica "Freddie" Rice, Nick's drug-addicted friend who had apparently received a phone call from Nick requesting them, but Nick had made her voice sound just strange enough for Freddie to later have doubts about whether it was really her. Upon receiving the chocolates, Nick had injected them with a surmountable amount of coccaine and taken only enough to make herself visibly sick. Poirot has, meanwhile, become suspicious of the Crofts for being forgers if not murderers, and convinces Nick to partake in a ruse to try to expose them, so he lets it be publicly known that Nick is dead.

However, during his subsequent investigations, Poirot discovers that a) Seton's letters to Nick do not contain any mention of a surgery she had had, and b) Maggie had already been going to come to End House to stay, a fact which Nick had not revealed to him, leading him to start doubting her truthfulness for the first time. While he is talking to Captain Hastings, the latter casually chats about how there are many nicknames for the name of Margaret, such as Maggie; this leads Poirot to have an epiphany that Maggie Buckley's real name was Magdala, the same as Nick's. 

Continuing the ruse with Nick, Poirot is present for a reading of what is apparently Nick's will received by her lawyer Charles Vyse, but the will is a forgery by the Crofts. Poirot then convinces everyone to conduct a seance, during which Nick dramatically appears as her own ghost and exposes the Crofts, who are taken in to custody for forgery. Freddie is then shot at through a window; it is her estranged abusive husband, who promptly dies. Poirot then reveals that he asked Inspector Japp to hide near the front door of End House while everyone was gathered for the reading of the will; Japp witnessed Nick open a secret panel (which she'd previously denied the existence of), remove a pistol, and plant it in the pocket of Freddie to frame her. Japp arrests Nick for the murder of Maggie; Nick protests but goes along with him, although not before asking for and obtaining Freddie's wristwatch as a "souvenir".

Poirot explains the details of Nick's plot to the remaining guests, and reveals that Freddie's wristwatch contained a lethal amount of coccaine, which Nick will use to kill herself and escape the gallows. He also reveals that the cocaine supplied to Freddie and Nick was supplied by Challenger, who is involved in drug trafficking.

The 1990 ITV adaptation has Nick react nastily to being exposed, sneering and insulting everyone; by contrast, the original book simply has her feigning bewilderment and calling the situation a "perfectly ridiculous comedy".

Trivia

  • In Nick, Christie deconstructs a character archetype from traditional detective fiction by making the guilty party the character who a) is the apparently intended victim, b) enlists the detective's help, and c) aids the detective in uncovering a crime (the forgery by the Crofts). 

Navigation

 
Agatha Christie's Poirot (title card).png Villains

Murderers
Novels
Alfred Inglethorp | Alistair Ravenscroft | Ann Shapland | Anne Meredith | Bella Tanios | Claude Darrell | David Hunter | Dorothea Jarrow | Dr. Geoffrey Roberts | Dr. James Sheppard | Elsa Greer | Evelyn Howard | Franklin Clarke | Gerda Christow | Jacqueline de Bellefort | Jane Wilkinson | Jessie Hopkins | Lady Westholme | Lanfranco Cassetti | Marthe Daubreuil | Martin Alistair Blunt | Michael Garfield | Miss Chadwick | Miss Gilchrist | Nick Buckley | Nigel Chapman | Norman Gale | Patrick Redfern | Rowena Drake | Simon Doyle | Sir Charles Cartwright | Stephen Norton | Superintendent Sugden
Short Stories
Marrascaud | Nurse Harris | Roger Havering | Zoe Havering

Villainous Victims
Abandoned Accomplices
Anne Morisot | Carlotta Adams | Eileen Corrigan | Leslie Ferrier
Abusers
Lady Boynton | Lord Edgware | Simeon Lee
Blackmailers
Angèle Blanche | Charles Trenton | Henry Reedburn | Leopold Reynolds | Louise Bourget | Madame Giselle
Killers
Lanfranco Cassetti | Mrs. Lorrimer | Paul Déroulard | Stephen Norton
Unscrupulous
John Christow | Linnet Doyle | Mrs. Clapperton | Paul Renauld | Sir Reuben Astwell

Accomplices & Others
Alice Cunningham | Anne Morisot | Big Four | Carlotta Adams | Christine Redfern | Countess Vera Rosakoff | The Crofts | Eileen Corrigan | Frances Cloade | Freddie Rice's husband | George Challenger | Henrietta Savernake | Leslie Ferrier | Madame Daubreuil | Miss Van Schuyler | Rowley Cloade

Adaptational, Homage & Non-Canonical
Agatha Christie's Poirot: Grace Springer | Harrington Pace | Marie McDermott | Sister Agnieszka |

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